As some of you know, we are a military family. We have done our fair share of long deployments, and I’ll be the first to admit, they’re never easy. We have, however, found many ways to make my little girls feel like their Daddy wasn’t so far away
Hearing their Mommy or Daddy’s voice
Have the deploying parent record a cassette tape, or pre-recorded clips of them reading bedtime stories, singing songs, or encouraging and praising the child. The child will then have the option to hear their parent’s voice anytime they wish and it keeps the bond between the deployed parent and the child strong. Let the child make recordings for Mom or Dad, too! My husband has told me many times, that those videos and recordings were what got him through.
If your child is old enough to read and write, go pick them up a journal to keep just for Mommy/Daddy. Reading about the child’s day to day activities, help the deployed parent feel more connected to what is happening at home, and allows them to see the child grow. I encourage the deployed parent to do the same. You’ll be amazed at how much you can write when you miss your family.
Keep a photo journal/scrapbook
This is something a child of any age can do. Let your children start taking some digital photos each day. At the end of the day, print them out and glue them into a notebook (complete with decorated cover). If they are reading and writing, have them write captions for the pictures. Complete with all the details they can remember. If they aren’t quite old enough to write, you can write down what they ask you to. Make sure that you use their words. Those silly things they say, will surely bring a smile to Mom or Dad’s face.
Where I lay my head
A few weeks prior to deployment, have the kids make a special pillow case for Mom or Dad’s deployment. You can use fabric paints, ribbons, photo transfers, anything you’d like. (I don’t recommend glitter…ha-ha) My husband LOVED his, and talks of it often.
“Love Calendar” count down calendar
I made it a point to do this for my husband during EVERY single deployment. My little girls and I wrote encouraging notes on each day of a calendar, counting down each day until he’d be home. We would glue silly pictures on some of the days, marked all of the special dates, and attach mini envelopes that held something special. My husband adored this! He still has every single one we’ve ever made. I even catch him flipping through them every once in awhile.
Send him with “Do not open until, blankity blank” cards
This was one of my “MUST DO’s” for every deployment. When our loved ones are deployed, they often miss those special days. I wanted to make sure he felt included. Plus, it gives them something exciting to look forward to. Have Mom or Dad do the same for the little ones.
We all know that deployments are no fun at all. None of us likes them. However, these ideas did help with avoiding complete meltdowns. The girls knew that Daddy was thinking of them and missing them, and Daddy knew he was always on our mind.